Oblivion is a place. No one knows where it is, which is strange because so many people go there. Many but not all. I have it on unproven but historically consistent authority that a good deal many others go somewhere.
A GOD BY ANY OTHER NAME
If I could find God I think I would find my wife.
I’m not referring to the God of Sunday School and the God of organized and disorganized religion — a divine being surrounded by bright light who lives in a magical place called Heaven.
By God I mean the mystery behind the universe.
The word God is a paltry three-letter inadequacy for the universe. The mathematical precision alone that keeps it all together, spinning and constantly moving at unbelievable speeds is miraculous. One centimeter off and it all goes haywire.
God needs a more spectacular name. Take the word supernatural. That’s an impressive word. But God and the supernatural are not synonymous, because God also includes the natural world — the earth and the oceans and mountains and cities and houses and people and animals, everything we see around us with our available senses, the senses that currently are the only ones available to us.
But in the supernatural word, other senses must come into play, senses we aren’t yet aware of. There may be living people who have some supernatural sense, or think they do. But I think only in death does the supernatural world, that otherworldly dimension possibly become available to us and we become part of it, part of the universe, part of the miracle.
Unbelievers will say this sounds like the same pie-in-the-sky stuff as the God in Heaven surrounded by divine light. It requires the same faith or suspension of disbelief, certainly.
Faith carries a heavy burden for a five-letter word. The word for God should at least have five letters. Miracle has seven.
Seven. Now we’re getting somewhere. In Biblical studies, seven is the number of “completeness and perfection.”
The Bible itself was originally divided into seven parts: the law, the prophets, the writings or psalms, the gospels and acts, the general epistles, the epistles of Paul, and the book of Revelation. The total number of originally inspired books was forty-nine — seven times seven.
That works for me. God is the Miracle. The Miracle of the universe. If we become part of that when we die, we find the undead.
An epiphany in the making
I had been snowed in for two days.
When the Nor’easter began to ease up Thursday afternoon I went outside and waded through a foot-and-a-half of snow to the snow-covered car in the driveway. I cleared about half the snow from the doors and windshield, got in and tried to rev my way out of the driveway. Not a chance.
I don’t have a snow shovel and at my advanced age I’m too old to shovel anyway. I got chest pains from just clearing half the snow off the car.
There was enough food and booze in the house for another day so I went back inside. Thursday night was another of my insomniac nights, but this time with chest pains. I got through the night but Friday was no letup of an irregular heartbeat and dizziness.
I refrained from calling the doctor because I didn’t want to take the chance of this being serious and him having me admitted to hospital. Hospital at my age during the covid surge is not a good idea for me or the front line workers.
I made no further attempt to get the car out of the driveway. I didn’t call anybody for help, I’m not sure why. I just said to hell with it and stayed inside the rest of the day, struggling with rapid heartbeat and more dizziness, which at this point I figured was more likely an anxiety attack than a serious heart problem.
Normally at this stage of the game I’d take a Xanax and that would calm me right down, but I was all out of Xanax. I drank booze instead — not so beneficial.
The night was a lonely and anxious one. I started reading a new book I had had delivered called ‘Miracles,’ an examination of the supernatural by the Christian writer C.S. Lewis.
I am not a religious person. I started reading C.S. Lewis after the death of my wife two years ago. His book ‘A Grief Observed,’ about the death of his own wife and his anger and disillusionment with God, helped me cope with my own loss more than anything or anybody else could have. It may have stopped me from killing myself.
So there I was late last night beginning to read his ‘Miracles,’ all the while trying to ignore my chest pains.
Not being a ‘believer’ but also not being an agnostic, I put the book down and actually sort of prayed, in my own way. I addressed the prayer to my wife.
“I don’t know where you are, honey, I suspect you’re in oblivion, in other words, you’re nowhere, but in the spirit of this book about miracles and on the miraculous chance that you can hear me, I need a miracle right now to get rid of my chest pains and dizziness and anxiety because at this rate I’m never going to get out of this snowbound house.” Words to that effect.
I went back to reading the book. About fifteen minutes later, at 11 p.m., I heard the revving and scraping of a snowplow in the driveway. I looked out the window and — by god! — some guy was clearing the snow, making a path for my car to get out. It didn’t take him long. And then he drove off into the night.
Just knowing I was no longer trapped by snow and will be able to drive back out to civilization in the morning made me feel immediately better.
There I was, laughing with joy and telling the cat, “By, God, Bella! Susan, God, whoever, just sent us a miracle!”
The Testament According to the Jackdaw of Unreason
Belief in God goes against reason. Believing in a fantastic realm of a glorious Afterlife is irrational.
Reason stands like a pillar of logic on a solid foundation of fact. The reason the sun will come up tomorrow is because it has been coming up for 4.5 billion years and it’s perfectly logical — in fact, it’s a fact — that it will come up tomorrow.
Reason is rational, reason is sanity. Believing in God is irrational and insane. Only a lunatic could believe in God.
Enter the Jackdaw of Unreason. He believes in God. The very reason he’s called the Jackdaw of Unreason is because it doesn’t take reason to believe in God it takes unreason.
But, Jackdaw, saith I, playing the devil’s advocate, why would you believe in a God who calls you — that is, the jackdaw, the screech owl, the short-eared owl, the little owl, the fisher owl, the white owl, the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, the falcon, the raven, the hawk, the stork, the heron, the ostrich, the sea gull and the bat — “an abomination” among the birds? [Leviticus 11:13-19]
The Mad Bird of Metropolis
Does that seem unreasonable to you? the jackdaw slyly asks.
Yes it does, say I, falling into his trap.
I rest my case, he says with a wink of the eye.
The jackdaw is a lunatic. Not the kind of lunatic whose insanity derives from the phases of the moon, but a bona fide genuine madman, I mean madbird.
The jackdaw tells someone with reason, Forget your reason, get some unreason.
Reason won’t get you to Heaven. But unreason will. Furthermore, quoth the jackdaw, faith is unreason. Faith is believing in something when there is no proof that it exists. Faith is irrational.
Get some faith, says the jackdaw. Don’t question it, just stand firm like an irrational lunatic on a fantastic unfoundation of unreason.
Ah, that jackdaw, he’s one crazy bird.